Four US airlines all claimed compliance with China’s demand that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao be listed as part of China in online booking systems. The carriers updated their websites late Tuesday to have the proper naming present by the Wednesday deadline. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is withholding approval of the changes, however, with a two week window now running to review the changes and ensure they are sufficient. And there is reason to believe that the US carriers did not go far enough to meet the demands of China.
Caught up in the international diplomacy dispute, the airlines must walk a fine line to maintain their business in Taiwan and mainland China. To that end the US carriers simply dropped mention of Taiwan from their websites. While airports in other countries – including China – show a country name or code in the lookup tables and destination lists the Taiwanese airports do not. This compromise allows the airlines to show that they are not claiming Taiwanese independence (the CAAC’s demand) while also not claiming Taiwan as part of the PRC.
But the US carriers were alone in that approach. And it is unclear that the compromise was negotiated with Chinese authorities so much as decided by the US carriers in hopes no one would mind.
European carriers updated their sites to show “Taiwan, China” as the designation for the airports, the outcome China and the CAAC desire.
During the company’s earnings call on Thursday American CEO Doug Parker suggested that it was a viable compromise and expressed hope that it would be seen as acceptable. And perhaps it will be. The CAAC left open the two week window for further review rather than outright claiming noncompliance. But only 4 of 44 airlines are non-compliant. And they’re all US carriers. That does not bode well.
Read more: China wins airport “separatism” battle
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.